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THE LASS OF BALLOCHMYLE.
'Twas ev'n, the dewy fields were green,
On ev'ry blade the pearls hang; The zephyr wanton'd round the bean,
And bore its fragrant sweets alang: In ev'ry glen the mavis sang,
All nature list ning seem'd the while, Except where greenwood echoes rang,
Amang the braes o' Ballochmyle.
With careless step I onward stray'd,
My heart rejoic'd in Nature's joy, When musing in a lonely glade,
A maiden fair I chanc'd to spy; Her look was like the morning's eye,
Her air like Nature's vernal smile; The lily's hue, and rose's dye,
Bespake the lass o' Ballochmyle.
Fair is the morn in flowry May,
And sweet is night in Autumn mild, When roving through the garden gay,
Or wand'ring in the lonely wild; But woman, Nature's darling child!
There all her charms she does compile; Ev'n there her other works are foil'd
By the bonnie lass o' Ballochmyle. O had she been a country maid,
And I the happy cou swain, Though shelter'd in the lowest shed
That ever rose on Scotland's plain!
With joy, with rapture, I would toil
Then pride might climb the slipp’ry steep,
Where fame and honours lofty shine;
Or downward seek the Indian mine.
To tend the flocks, or till the soil,
Wi' the bonnie lass o' Ballochmyle. *
* This song has been considered, and perhaps with justice, as one of the richest and most finished effusions of Burns's Muse. The name of the heroine has not been mentioned, but it has been said that she was a celebrated beaụty of the West of Scotland,” and that “ the charms of her person corresponded with the character of her mind.” Our Bard's rencontre with her was not fictitious, nor did he leave her long in ignorance of the enthusiasm she had inspired. The following is an extract from the letter he sent to her, inclosing the song. It is highly descriptive, both of the surrounding scenery, and of his own feelings at the moment; and is, perhaps, one of the finest passages to be found in his prose writings, or indeed, in any writings in the English language.
“ The scenery was nearly taken from real life, though I dare say, Madam, you do not recollect it, as I believe you' scarcely noticed the poetic reveur as he wandered by you. I had roved out as chance directed, in the favourite haunts of my muse, on the banks of the Ayr, to view nature in all the gaiety of the vernal year. The evening sun was flaming over the distant western hills; not a breath stirred the crimson opening blossom, or the verdant spreading leaf. It was a golden moment for a poetic heart. I listened to the feathered warblers, pouring their harmony on every hand, with a congenial kindred regard, and frequently turned out of my path, lest I should disturb their little songs, or frighten them to another station. Surely, said I to myself, he must be a wretch indeed, who, regardless of your harmonious endeavour to please him, can eye your elusive flights to discover your secret recesses, and to rob you of all the property nature gives you, your dearest comforts, your helpless nestlings.
O TELL ME HOW FOR TO W00.
TUNE" Bonnie Dundee.”
OH! tell me, oh tell me bonnie young lassie!
Oh tell me young lassie how for to woo !
Oh tell me sweet lassie how for to woo !
Lips like the roses fresh moisten’d wi' dew?
Oh! tell me, oh tell me how for to woo!
Far hae I wander'd to see the dear lassie!
Far hae I ventur'd across the saut sea !
Houseless, and wearie, sleep'd cauld on the lea!
For ne'er loo'd I onie till ance I loo'd you; Now we're alane in the green-wood sae bonnie!
Oh! tell me, oh tell me how for to woo !
Even the hoary hawthorn twig that shot across the way, what heart at such a time but must have been interested in its welfare, and wished it preserved from the rudely-browsing cattle, or the withering eastern blast? Such was the scene and such the hour, when, in a corner of my prospect, I spied one of the fairest pieces of Nature's workmanship that ever crowned a poetic landscape, or met a poet's eye; those visionary bards excepted who hold commerce with aërial beings! Had Calumny and Villany taken my walk, they had at that moment sworn eternal peace with such an object.
“What an hour of inspiration for a Poet! It would have raised plain, dull, historic prose into metaphor and measure.
“ The enclosed song was the work of my return home; and perhaps it but poorly answers what might have been expected from such a scene."
What care I for your wand'ring, young laddie!
What care I for your crossing the sea ! It was na for naithing ye left
poor young Peggy;It was for my tocher ye cam to court me:Say, hae ye gowd to busk me aye gawdie?
Ribbans, and perlins, and breast-knots enew? A house that is cantie, wil walth in't, my laddie?
Without this ye never need try for to woo.
I hae na gowd to busk ye aye gawdie!
I canna buy ribbans and perlins enew! I've naithing to brag o' house, or o'plenty !
I've little to gie but a heart that is true I cam na for tocher-I ne'er heard o onie;
I never loo'd Peggy, nor e'er brak my vow. I've wander'd, poor fool! for a face fause as bonnie !
-1 little thought this was the way for to woo !
Hae na ye roos'd my cheeks like the morning!
Hae na ye roos'd my cherry-red mou !
What mair, my dear Johnnie, need ye to woo?
Now that ye've found me, there's nae cause to rue ; Wi' health we'll hae plenty—I'll ne'er gang gawdie,
I ne'er wish'd for mair than a heart that is true.
She hid her fair face in her true lover's bosom ;
The saft tear o transport fill'd ilk lover's ee; The burnie ran sweet by their side as they sabbit,
And sweet sang the mavis aboon on the tree. He claspd her, he press'd her, and ca'd her his hinny,
And aften he tasted her hinny-sweet mou; And
aye 'tween ilk smack she sigh’d to her JohnnieOh! laddie! 'oh laddie !-weel can ye woo!
BESS THE GAWKIE.
BLYTHE young Bess to Jean did say,
And sport a while wi' Jamie?
Out owre the muir to Maggie:
“ That Bess was but a gawkie.
“ For when a civil kiss I seek, “ She turns her head, and thraws her cheek, “ And for an hour she'll hardly speak:
“ Wha'd no ca’ her a gawkie? “ But sure my Maggie has mair sense, “ She'll gie a score without offence; Now gie me ane into the mense, “ And ye shall be my
dawtie.” 'O Jamie, ye hae monie ta’en,
But I will never stand for ane • Or twa when we do meet again,
So ne'er think me a gawkie.' “ Ah, na, lass, that canna be; “ Sic thoughts as thae are far frae me, “ Or onie thy sweet face that see, “ E'er to think thee a gawkie.”